There were several writers of the name of Skylax which considering its meaning is rather strange. The Periplus or Circumnavigation of Europe Asia and Libya ascribed to Skylax is a modern work1 and does not contain anything about India. Amidst all the confusion however that has gathered round the name of Skylax two facts stand out one recorded by Herodotus the other by Aristotle. Aristotle2 knew of a Skylax and that he had stated that among the Indians the kings are taller than the rest of the people. And Herodotus3 tells us that when Darius Hystaspes (521-486) wished to know where the river Indus fell into the sea he sent a naval expedition and also Skylax a man of Karyanda. ‘The ships’ he continues ‘started from Kaspatyros and the land of Paktyika down the river toward the east and the rising of the sun to the sea; then sailing on the sea westward they arrived in the thirtieth month at the place where the king of Egypt despatched the Phenicians whom I before mentioned to sail round Libya. After these persons had sailed round Darius subdued the Indians and frequented this sea.’
Skylax and the Paktyes the Pashtu or Afghans.
There are some facts in this statement of Herodotus which deserve more attention than they have hitherto received. First of all there is no reason to doubt what he says about Skylax and though Herodotus does not refer to an actual book written by him—he seldom refers to books—we know at all events that Herodotus knew the name of Ἰνδοί or Indians the name of Kaspatyros and the name of Paktyika. These are facts and names full of meaning. The name of Ἰνδοί was mentioned first by Hekataeos a century before Herodotus. The name Paktyika however is new and seems to be the old name of the Afghans. The Afghans call themselves even now Pashtûn in the West Pachtûn in the East and this by a regular Prâkritic assimilation would as Trumpp4 remarks have become Pathân in Indian dialects. Whether the Pakthas mentioned in the Rig-veda (VII. 18 7) are the same race must remain doubtful5. The persistence of some of these ancient national and local names however is quite marvellous and shows a continuity of tradition even in places where we should least expect it. The old seats of the Paktyes seem to have extended westward into Arachosia6 and there they would really have been part of the Persian Empire7. Herodotus also tells us that Paktyes served in the Persian army.
Still more curious however is the name of the town Kaspatyros if known to Skylax. Everybody seems agreed that Herodotus wrote Kaspatyros by mistake for Kaspapyros which is the name used by Hekataeos for what he calls Γανδαρικὴ πόλις Σκυθῶν ἀκτή i.e. a town of the Gandari the limit of the Scythians. In pyros of Kaspa-pyros the Sanskrit word pura town has been discovered.
Lassen (I2 p. 515) and others after him have attempted to identify these Paktyes (Pakhtu) with Pahlava a name of the ancient Persians and to trace that name back to Pers. pahlû side Sk. parsu. But Quatremère seems to me to have proved that Pahlava was really the old name of the Parthians. The name of Parthia occurs in the inscriptions of Darius and in Herodotus as the name of the province of Chorasan so far as it belongs to Persia. Ardawân the last king of Parthia is called the Pahlavî by Tabari and Olshausen considered the Pehlevi language and alphabet as Parthian. Rh and lh hr and hl in Persian often represent an original rth and rt e. g. puhl bridge = pĕrĭtu; puhlum = Sk. prathama first and Noöldeke as we saw tried to prove that this phonetic change took place in the first century A.D. In that case no Sanskrit text in which Pahlava occurs—it does not occur in the Rig-veda—could be earlier than that date. Pahlava occurs in the Girnâr inscription of Rudra-dâman which as Bühler and Fleet have shown is dated 21–22 A.D.8
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